Since 2013, SmartStop Self Storage has been the primary sponsor of Team SmartStop — a professional cycling team that has clinched four national championships.

With Ladera Ranch, CA-based SmartStop selling its portfolio to Salt Lake City, UT-based self-storage REIT Extra Space Storage in a deal valued at $1.4 billion, the cycling team is seeking a new primary sponsor. The price tag for the sponsorship: $500,000.

Winston-Salem, NC-based Premier Sports Group manages the team. Owner James Bennett told the Winston-Salem Journal that the sale of SmartStop caught the team off guard. Extra Space Storage chose not to continue the sponsorship, which expires at the end of this year.

“We’ve constantly been out there kind of feeling out who’s interested, so it was more of an inevitability that it was going to happen and that we were trying to prepare for it,” Bennett told the Winston-Salem newspaper. “But this happened pretty quickly, and we weren’t prepared for it. It’s put stress on our organization, that’s for sure.”

Julian Kyer
Julian Kyer races for what now is known as Team SmartStop.

Bennett said the $500,000 will cover the team’s annual operating expenses. By comparison, rival teams spend $1.5 million to $7 million a year. Bennett said his team has enough saved to keep the team afloat in 2016, but more funding is needed to keep pace with the competition.

In a statement posted online, Bennett praised the “steadfast support” of SmartStop and its chairman and CEO, Michael Schwartz.

“Their excitement for the sport was contagious in the organization and the success that we had was directly linked to their desire to see us at the top step of the podium,” Bennett said. “We will miss their involvement, but we understand that all good things must come to an end, and we welcome a new chapter in our organization to take this successful platform to another company interested in racing at the highest level in North America.”

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Alexander Harris